Master Byung Uk Kim owns World Champion’s K Tae Kwon Do, but helming the studio is hardly the most impressive stat on his martial-arts résumé. A seventh-dan black belt, Master Kim’s tae kwon do experience spans the globe—he was the head coach of the USA’s Junior Olympic Team, and a 10-time national champion in Korea, the sport’s country of origin.
At his two New Jersey studios, Master Kim currently teaches his specialty to students of all experience levels and belt hues, aided by a team of trainers. Beyond courses in their namesake discipline, the studios also host free cardio-kickboxing nights for parents every Tuesday, as well as tae kwon do–themed birthday parties.
Helmed by a team of passionate climbing coaches, both of The Gravity Vault's locations surround climbers with more than 13,000 square feet of climbing space. Walls tower past 35 feet, mimicking such natural rock formations as overhangs, keyhole arches, and slabs, and bouldering areas challenge climbers with a latticework of problems that—unlike most of life's—can't simply be solved with dynamite and a pair of roller skates. Visitors can choose from up to 60 top-rope stations, trusting either the trained staff or a certified fellow climber to man the ropes while they scramble to the summit. When not dangling from a hold or saving lost kittens from a rappel ledge, members can bulk up in the cardiovascular-training area.
School directors Diego Di Falco and Carolina Zokalski spent years dancing in Buenos Aires before they launched their professional dancing careers at the age of 20 by landing roles in the touring production of Forever Tango. When the show made its way to the U.S., the two became two of the youngest tango dancers in history to make it to Broadway. Like a puppy at show-and-tell, they earned enthusiastic acclaim, eventually picking up a Tony nomination for their choreography. These achievements were only the beginning of careers that graced the stages of Carnegie Hall, the Marquis Theatre, the Hollywood Bowl, and other esteemed venues.
Their reputations secured, Carolina and Diego turned to sharing the art of Argentinian dance with students, which they do today at Summit's Twin Maples mansion, a neoclassical home listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Inside, the hardwood dance floor is lit by chandeliers and accented by classical touches such as crown molding and bronze curtain rods, giving one the sense of dancing at a presidential ball or in a really, really fancy broom closet. There, the pair strives to make each step as authentic as possible by importing traditional music and guest artists directly from Argentina for the classes, workshops, and performances they helm.
Students arrive at Ballroom Dance of NJ seeking to learn the elegant art of social dancing, a tradition carried on by Russia natives Sergei and Olga Bezrodnov. The husband-and-wife team has taken home numerous Russian and U.S. championship titles, and the two are committed to sharing their passion for dance with the community.
Having experienced how ballroom dancing can promote both physical and mental well-being, the Bezrodnovs teach adults, children, and entire families how to gracefully navigate the dance floor. They coordinate events where couples can demonstrate their skills in styles such as the foxtrot, waltz, tango, cha-cha, and swing, preparing soon-to-be-wedded couples for their big day and singles to pass the time in malfunctioning elevators.
Fifteen thousand square feet of colorful training equipment beckons to be tumbled upon. That's where the dedicated staff comes in, working with students of all skill levels to build confidence and coordination through gymnastics programs. With classes designed for students between 18 months and 18 years old, gymnastics programs provide a well-rounded curriculum that helps motivate students while honing concentration and basic motor movements.
Classes for tots and kindergarten-age students include practice on obstacle courses, trampolines, balance beams, and tumble tracks. Girls and boys older than 5 1/2 years learn fun and challenging exercises while climbing rock walls, swinging on uneven bars, and attempting to bridle wild pommel horses. Sunburst Gymnastics also offers competitive programs, in which students train for state, regional, and national events.
The Ballpark's 15,000-square-foot indoor baseball facility has been the training ground for regional all-star youth league players and state championship teams since 1999. A team of experienced coaches, led by three-time Star-Ledger Coach of the Year Tony Picaro, teaches fundamentals such as bunting, fielding, and signing autographs while wearing an oversize novelty foam finger. Private and group lessons hone skills after school, and multiday clinics immerse rookies and pros alike in the sport's finer points. Outside class hours, players practice at six public batting cages, a timed home-to-first track, and a pitching mound monitored by radar and off-duty traffic cops. The Ballpark is also a great place to host a birthday party, which include pizza or hot dogs, popcorn, drinks, papers goods, and a free batting cage token.
Grandmaster Taek Sung Cho has accrued more than 40 years of martial-arts experience and a host of titles on his resumé, including coach for the International Junior Taekwondo Championships and the U.S. Junior Olympic Taekwondo Team. However, he derives the most reward from his role as teacher, a position he has coveted since establishing Master Cho's Talium in 1991. Working with expert instructors, he imparts the value of community and inner balance through the lens of tae kwon do technique.
Master Cho's lessons amplify confidence as well as coordination in young children, teens, and adults. Students can practice with others in their age group or alongside their families, depending on whether their school bus or their house transforms into a giant fighting robot. Kardio Kickboxing workouts toast calories with rapid jabs, and the staff emphasize the social aspect of self-defense training by hosting summer camps and birthday parties.